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'American Horror Story' Writer Andrew J. Paulsen's Found Footage Horror 'Homebody' to Play Unnamed Footage Festival 2024



American Horror Story: 1984 writer Andrew J. Paulsen’s found-footage horror short film “HOMEBODY” will open the world premiere of horror feature film LOOKY-LOO at the Unnamed Footage Festival at San Francisco’s Balboa Theatre on Saturday March 30th. Paulsen wrote and directed the short film and will attend the festival.


“Homebody” stars Disney World actress McKenzie Jo Shepler as Hanna, a traumatized young woman who is convinced her terrorizer has returned, but this time she's determined to catch them in the act. Following in the “screen life” style of horror-thrillers Searching and Unfriended, “Homebody” utilizes found footage and screen caps of text messages and video chats to weave a modern tale that comments on violence and exploitation in social media.


Paulsen and Shepler based the "Homebody" story on a real-life incident. Shepler formerly lived in a first-floor Orlando, FL apartment that was vandalized by an unknown assailant late at night in March 2020. She awoke to a loud crash, finding herself covered in shards of glass in her bed with the window above her smashed – someone had thrown a large piece of lumber through the pane while she was sleeping.


Image courtesy of Unnamed Footage Festival

“My husband and I had just moved in. It was the perfect spot on the edge of a lake in downtown Orlando with beautiful wildlife, but less than a month living there the break-in happened. We called the police but there were no witnesses when it happened. It unfortunately changed how I felt about living in that space” says Shepler.


The incident led Shepler to install security cameras around her home as a precaution, but the constant phone alerts, photos, and videos that followed from her security system didn’t necessarily make her feel safer.


“There were a number of things we caught on camera like someone walking through our fenced-in backyard. I started getting caught up in worst-case thoughts about what I would do if somebody actually broke in while I’m home,” says Shepler. “Since I was getting into film acting then, I brought the idea to my friend Andrew [Paulsen] to see if he would want to write something for me.”


While the similarities between Shepler and her character Hanna end there, those same security cameras and apartment were used in the production and add a sense of realism to the fictional home invasion.


Paulsen worked as script coordinator on American Horror Story: Roanoke which mixed reality TV and horror. He was fortunate to get a fly-on-the-wall look at how the show used different cameras and video formats for their found-footage season, and while that was back in 2016, it served as his bootcamp for this project in 2021.


“It was insane how many practical and hidden cameras were rolling all at once on that set. I think they had over 26 at times because the labels ran from Camera A to Z and then some,” says Paulsen. “While I only used a fraction of what Roanoke used, we had multiple iPhones, iPads, action cams and mounted security cameras rolling simultaneously to save time and shoot with our whole team in one day.”



"Homebody" has already played several festivals and screenings including the 2021 Orlando Independent Filmmakers (OIF) Chaos/Horror Challenge, 2022 Sin City Horror Festival, and October 2023 The Great Film Club NYC. It was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Story, Best Lead Actress, Best Lead Actor, Best Set Design, Best Cinematography, and Best Sound and won Best Editing & Best Supporting Actor at the 2021 OIF Chaos Horror event.


With its festival run nearly complete, Paulsen is eyeing to adapt “Homebody” as a feature film with a story that takes place after the short’s conclusion.


“People who watched it have asked some thought-provoking questions about the ending, so I’m writing a sequel that reframes what happened. It picks up in the near future with a young woman digging up old photos, videos, and articles about these people after she finds herself uncomfortably close with someone connected to the Homebody killings,” says Paulsen.


Feature film Looky-Loo, directed by Jason Zink, is about an aspiring filmmaker who obsessively captures footage everywhere he goes, but his hobby takes a dark turn. As he hones his craft and his crimes begin to escalate, the viewer is trapped watching everything he sees and does through his camera lens. Exploring themes of voyeurism, obsession, and the power of images, Looky-loo is reminiscent of Angst (1983) and Peeping Tom (1960) with a chilling atmosphere and gritty, disturbing imagery.


Image courtesy of Unnamed Footage Festival

Tickets for the 12pm Saturday March 30th screening of “Homebody” and Looky-Loo can be purchased online at filmfreeway.com/UnnamedFootageFestival/tickets. Zink and Paulsen will be in attendance at the premiere with Zink participating in an audience Q&A following the film. The Balboa Theater is located at 3630 Balboa Street in San Francisco’s Outer Richmond (Balboa St. & 38th Ave).


The Unnamed Footage Festival (UFF), now in its seventh year, showcases features and short films all in the genre of found footage horror or faux documentary. Spanning from shot-on-video experiments of the early 90s to new unreleased and underseen features, the festival is set on opening a dialogue regarding the entertainment and artistic values of first-person narrative filmmaking. UFF has been covered by outlets such as Dread Central, Bloody Disgusting, and ComingSoon.net. To learn more about this year’s lineup, visit UnnammedFootageFestival.com



ABOUT “HOMEBODY” CAST & CREW

Andrew J. Paulsen is a writer-filmmaker in New York City. While his filmmaking dreams are inspired by George Lucas, his nightmares are fueled by John Carpenter and Rod Serling. Andrew was a staff writer on American Horror Story: 1984. His short film "Homebody" was nominated for 10 Horror awards at the Fall 2021 Orlando Independent Filmmakers Challenge, including Best Original Story, Best Director, and Best Picture.


He recently directed a horror-comedy music video for artist 3DSpaceCadet’s synth-pop cover of Phil Collins’ “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now).” In the video, 3DSpaceCadet dodges a stalker donning a paper mache Phil Collins mask. “Take a Look at Me Now” by 3DSpaceCadet is now streaming on Youtube.


McKenzie Jo Shepler, who co-wrote the story and starred in “Homebody,” can be seen performing at Disney World’s ‘Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue’ in Orlando, FL.


Gabe Perez, who plays Steve in the short, can be seen in AMC’s “Interview with the Vampire,” David Fincher’s THE KILLER, and stars in the upcoming horror film MORROW ROAD.


Cole Durham, who won a Best Supporting Acting award for his role in "Homebody" as Kai, is in final fundraising for the post-production of his directorial feature debut FABLE and wrote and directed the upcoming action short film REDEMPTION - A THIN BLUE LINE.


Ben Shepler, composer and sound recordist for “Homebody,” has produced and mixed several projects including QUEEN OF SWORDS: A NEW ROCK MUSICAL and an upcoming album commissioned by The Florida Aquarium, releasing Spring 2024.


Editor Brooks Leibee, winner of several editing and music awards, including Best Editing for “Homebody,” composes music for film, television, and interactive media. He’s composed and performed music for companies like Alienware and GamesRadar, audio dramas such as fan series “Tales From a Jurassic World,” “Eternity Fraternity,” and “Jingle Cell Block,” and feature films and shorts such as “DeRosa: Life, Love and Art in Transition” as well as black gothic horror short “HAG.”


“Homebody” was a co-production between Orlando-based Digital Bento Studios and New York-based Anenotano Productions with producers Andrew J. Paulsen, McKenzie Jo Shepler, and Ben Shepler, and co-producers Brooks Leibee, Mike Sabbagh, and Daniel Hagler.

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